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WDACP Program Requirements

The Wildlife Damage Abatement and Claims Program (WDACP) provides assistance for the commercial agricultural community. The program provides abatement and financial compensation for wild white-tailed deer, black bear, Canada goose, turkey, and elk damage to commercial seedlings, crops grown on agricultural land, damage to crops that have been harvested for sale or further use but have not been removed from the agricultural land, damage to orchard trees or nursery stock, damage to apiaries, and livestock. Other species that commonly cause damage (e.g., raccoons, sandhill cranes, woodchucks, rabbits, mice, blackbirds, beaver, and others) are not eligible for compensation or program benefits under current WDACP rules.  There are numerous requirements that program participants must meet.

1) In order to be eligible for program assistance, the land where the wildlife damage occurred is required to be located in a county which is participating in the administration of both the abatement and claims portions of the WDACP.

2) Enrollees must be the crop owner and must have hunting access control. This requirement applies to owned and leased contiguous properties. The enrollee must follow the minimum hunting requirement for all enrolled properties.

3) Enrollees must notify the County damage specialist within 14 days of the beginning of damage to maintain compensation eligibility. Failure to give timely notice of the beginning of damage does not eliminate the ability for abatement assistance. Notification of damage can occur before the actual damage has occurred, based on past damage history or anticipated damage.

4) Enrollees must notify the County damage specialist at least 10 days prior to harvesting enrolled crop fields. Fields that are harvested prior to field inspections are not eligible for compensation.

5) Enrollees must follow abatement measures prescribed by County damage specialists. This includes, but is not limited to shooting permits, temporary abatement measures, and/or permanent fences. Some method of abatement must be prescribed for each enrollee.

6) Enrollees are limited to a single claim application. Enrollees in multiple counties will require the County damage specialist(s) to appropriately distinguish abatement, claim and deduction totals for the counties.

7) Enrollment is required under 1 of 3 options. Enrollment forms must be complete and accurate. The hunting requirement assigned to each enrollee shall be clearly identified. WDACP enrollment options are Open Public Hunting (OPH), Managed Hunting Access (MHA), or No Public Hunting (ACT 82-deer only) (Note: hunters are required to notify farmers of their intent to hunt regardless of whether the farmer chooses OPH or MHA):

A.) Open Public Hunting (OPH)
An enrollee may enroll their property in the open hunting option of the WDACP. This allows the enrollee all available abatement and claims benefits. The 14 day and 10 day notification are required. Hunting access is unrestricted, but hunters are required by law to notify the enrollee of their intent to hunt. The enrollee has the authority to determine how often and how this notification must take place, namely by telephone or in person. Enrollees SHALL NOT charge any fees for hunting, hunting access, or for any activity that relates to hunting the species enrolled under. Parking is restricted to designated areas; vehicular access is prohibited; and use of existing hunting stands or blinds is prohibited, unless the enrollee grants specific permission. Hunters must follow existing state statutes regarding hunting, trespass, and protection of property. The enrollee is not required to keep a hunter log, however it is recommended that one be kept by enrollees with a shooting permit. On properties where a shooting permit has been issued, all permit and access hunters must wear blaze orange. It is advisable to warn all property users that permit hunters are on the property and prudent safety precautions should be used. Hunting is only allowed for the enrolled species, unless the enrollee grants specific permission for other species. All acres enrolled under the OPH rule must be open to hunter access: enrollees may not discriminate or exclude access hunters from entering any part of the enrolled property, except as safety concern(s) would mandate such action.

B.) Managed Hunting Access (MHA)

An enrollee may enroll their property in the managed hunting access option of the WDACP. This allows the enrollee all available abatement and compensation benefits. The 14 day and 10 day notifications are required. Land suitable for hunting will be determined by the County damage specialist.

DEER = The land considered suitable for deer hunting is woodland, wetland, CRP, other deer cover, and agricultural land within 330 feet of owned deer cover. The acreage suitable for hunting will always be rounded to the nearest 20 acre increment. Land inside a WDACP approved and maintained permanent deer fence is considered land NOT suitable for hunting.

OTHER ELIGIBLE SPECIES = Land suitable for hunting other eligible species means contiguous land where hunting is not likely to result in a violation of Wisconsin laws and shall include all such areas within the contiguous acres under the same ownership, lease or control, except those areas identified by the County as unsuitable for hunting.

The County damage specialist shall provide a hunter log and a map to the enrollee of the enrolled property. This map will be used to identify approximate property boundaries and land suitable for hunting. The enrollee shall use these maps to explain to hunters the boundaries and hunting constraints on the enrolled property. Enrollees cannot limit enrolled properties or restrict areas of enrolled properties from access hunters: access hunters cannot be refused, discriminated against, or excluded from entering any part of the enrolled property.

To register for hunting access, hunters shall contact program enrollees by first obtaining the County participation list, available on line at dnr.wi.gov key word search” Wildlife Damage Program”. The County (or its Agent) shall provide a current list of program participants and a fact sheet that describes the WDACP hunting access system to hunters upon their request. The hunter shall arrange a meeting with the enrollee.

Hunters must register to hunt by signing in the hunter log for the enrolled properties every time they arrive to hunt and signing out every time they leave. The enrollee shall describe the registration process, where the hunter log will be kept on the property, hunting constraints, safety concerns, and any information necessary to prevent trespass. The hunter log will require the hunter to record hunting date, time in & out, name, address, phone #, vehicle license #, hunting license #, and hunter success. Hunters utilizing a shooting permit will indicate that in the hunter log book. The enrollee will keep the hunter log current. In order to protect and preserve the hunter log records, enrollees need to collect pages daily or when pages are filled. These records shall be available to County (or its agent), or WDNR representatives upon request. Loss of records which result in failure to document access requirement compliance may result in ineligibility for program benefits. Loss or vandalism of the hunter log must be reported to the County damage specialist immediately.

Hunting access shall be on a first come first serve basis. Hunters may contact the enrollee in advance, but they may not register or sign the hunter log until they arrive on site to hunt. The enrollee shall allow at least 2 hunters per 40 acres of land suitable for hunting, at any given time of the appropriate hunting season. The enrollee and hunting members of their immediate family residing in the enrollee’s household may be counted towards the hunting requirement, but they must register on the hunter log and must be out on the land hunting at the time indicated on the log. Enrollee’s may refuse hunting access for reasonable cause as defined in WI Administrative Code NR 12.31(7), similar to shooting permit restrictions. Hunters may hunt only the species enrolled, unless the enrollee grants specific permission for other species. All acres enrolled, or as determined to be huntable acres, under the MHA rule must be open to hunter access: enrollees may not discriminate or exclude access hunters from entering any part of the enrolled property, except as safety concern(s) would mandate such action.

Enrollees SHALL NOT charge any fees for hunting, hunting access, or any other activity that relates to hunting the species enrolled under. Parking is restricted to designated areas; vehicular access is prohibited; and use of existing or permanent hunting stands or blinds is prohibited; unless the enrollee grants specific permission. Hunters must follow existing State regulations regarding hunting, trespass, and property protection.

Access hunters may use portable stands or blinds as long as they are removed at the end of each days hunt, unless otherwise authorized. When registering on the hunter log, the hunter shall certify that he/she holds the enrollee and landowner harmless from any injuries associated with the hunter’s hunting activity on the enrolled property, including any authorized use of hunting stands. Enrollees may restrict the use of dogs for the purpose of bear hunting if trespass on adjoining properties is likely to occur.

Written complaints regarding hunter access refusal shall be reviewed by the County (or its agent) and WDNR staff. Hunter log access records shall be used to determine violations. If verified violations occur, further program assistance (both abatement and claims) shall be refused for the calendar year in which the hunter access refusal occurred, and the enrollee will be ineligible for program participation/assistance in the following calendar year. In addition, an enrollee may be subject to the additional penalties outlined in s. 29.889(7m)(a) or (b) and/or s. 29.889(10), WI Stats.

Enrollees may not post the enrolled land “no hunting” or “no trespassing” but may post their lands “hunting by permission only.”

C.) No Public Hunting (ACT 82) For Deer Enrollments Only

An enrollee may enroll their property in the no public hunting (Act 82) option of the WDACP. However, this option provides the enrollee the availability of a deer shooting permit ONLY. The enrollee waives all right to other abatement and claim benefits for the calendar year. Further, once enrolled under ACT 82 the farmer cannot change their enrollment status to OPH or MHA during the year. Enrollees SHALL NOT charge any fees for hunting, hunting access, or any activity that relates to hunting the species causing the damage. Once a shooting permit is issued there are harvest objectives that must be met to maintain ACT 82 shooting permit eligibility for the following year.

8) Enrollees shall ensure adequate parking exists with enough parking area to accommodate the minimum required number of hunters and shall clearly describe these arrangements to the hunters.

9) The hunting access requirement does not apply to enrollee’s where the damage is to apiaries on lands where the applicant does not have hunting access control.

10) Damage abatement cost sharing is on a 75-25 basis. The County shall determine the actual costs of providing wildlife damage abatement assistance and provide 75% cost sharing. For permanent abatement measures, the enrollee shall provide 25% of the cost of materials and installation. For the purpose of determining the total cost of temporary abatement measures, cooperation by the enrollee in installation, construction, operation, notification if required, or maintenance of the temporary measure shall be considered 25% of its total costs.

11) Damage to crops that have been harvested for sale or further use (i.e. silage, haylage, hay bales, etc.), but have not been removed from the agricultural land, are eligible for program services and benefits. However, normal agricultural practices and implementation of practices and standards described in the WDACP Technical Manual are required. Only damage by eligible species is allowed.

12) Unharvested crops will be appraised using standardized methods in the WDACP Technical Manual.

13) Crop appraisals. County damage specialists shall appraise all fields requested by enrollees. Entire farms or crops will not be appraised if no appraisal request is received from the crop owner. Entire fields where damage has been reported and a request made by the crop owner shall be appraised in their entirety.

14) To be eligible for claims, the enrolled property must have been in production, cultivation or a USDA program for at least 5 consecutive years.

15) If the amount of the appraised loss is $500.00 or less, the claimant will receive no payment, due to the standard deductible. If the amount of the appraised loss is more than $500.00 but not more than $5,500.00, then the claimant will be paid 100% of the amount of the claims that exceeds the standard $500.00 deductible. If the amount of the appraised loss is more than $5,500.00, the claimant will be paid the amount calculated under the $5,500.00 level, plus 80% of the claim that exceeds $5,500.00, with a maximum payment of $10,000.00. A maximum claim has an appraised loss of at least $11,750.00.

*Claims will be paid in full every year unless there is inadequate funding for the WDACP. Claims may be pro-rated if WDACP funding is inadequate.

16) Claim Audits. Claims shall be randomly audited for accuracy and to police fraud. Penalties exist in state statute 29.889(10) to address violations in the WDACP. If convicted in a court of law on charges of fraud, an enrollee may be fined two times the value of any paid claim, plus up to an additional $1,000.00. Furthermore, the enrollee can lose their program privileges for up to 10 years. Any accessory to fraud may be subject to similar fines.

17) Shooting Permits. On properties where shooting permits have been issued, permit performance is directly related to claims approval and/or future shooting permit eligibility. For deer, the enrollee is required to meet one of two harvest performance objectives depending on their appraised crop loss from the previous year or selected program enrollment option:

Harvest Objectives for Deer Shooting Permits:
Enrollees with appraised losses >$1,000 during the previous year.

• Adhere to the hunting access requirement.
• Must be issued a shooting permit by February 15 to maintain claims eligibility for the current year.
• Harvest 80% of the prescribed deer by September 15 of the current year.
• All participant hunters must wear blaze orange.

Enrollees with appraised loss <$1,000 during the previous year, new enrollees, OR ACT 82 enrollees.
• Report damage within 14 days of the beginning of damage.
• Adhere to the hunting access requirement.
(unless Act 82)
• Harvest 50% of the prescribed deer harvest within 45 days of permit issuance.
• Harvest 80% of the prescribed deer by end of the deer hunting season.
• All participant hunters must wear blaze orange.
Deer shooting permit harvest performance is directly related to claim eligibility for that year.

If enrolled under OPH or MHA options, and the harvest objectives have not been met, there may be grounds for a deer harvest exemption if compelling evidence exists that deer were not available for harvest. The County Damage Specialist, County Conservationist, and local WDNR Manager will review such cases and make a recommendation to the County LCC or the County Damage Committee. The WDNR, through the claims audit process, will verify regulation compliance. Shooting permits issued for bear, geese, or turkeys currently do not have harvest objectives associated with those permits.

18) The County may adopt a deer harvest exemption for non-compliance with deer shooting permit harvest requirements described in s. NR12.16 (2)(b) 2 for a permittee enrolled in the WDACP.

19) Enrollees may sign up their properties with the WDACP for more than one eligible species. The species with the greater acreage of “Land suitable for hunting” shall be used to determine the minimum hunting access requirement.

20) Enrollees must be cooperative with County personnel and County agents responsible for administering the WDACP. Abusive language, behavior or threat of violence or otherwise will be considered a failure on the part of the enrollee to cooperate and may result in ineligibility to participate in the WDACP for the remainder of the calendar year in which they are uncooperative, and the following calendar year.

21) Claims will be denied on crops after a set date (determined by the county) indicating that 90% of that crop has been harvested county-wide.

22) Once enrolled in the WDACP, the enrollee must comply with program requirements until the end of the calendar year or the end of the deer hunting season if enrolled for deer damage. If the enrollee elects to withdraw from the WDACP prior to the end of the calendar year or deer hunting season, he/she may be required to reimburse the WDACP for services provided up to the date of withdrawal.